KUALA LUMPUR: P. Madhuri has emerged as the new shining star for Malaysia in karate.
The 20-year-old is now ranked first in the World Karate Federation (WKF) Under-21 rankings for girls’ kumite below 50kg category.
Madhuri, who is from Kedah, moved to the top in the latest world rankings with 1,050 points.
Iranian Sara Bahmanyar is second with 1,035 points ahead of Italian Nicole Murabito (930).
Madhuri is only the second Malaysian karate exponent to reach the top of the world rankings.
The first is her idol and former Asian Games gold medallist Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan, who was ranked No. 1 in the women’s kumite below 55kg category in 2016.
Madhuri boosted her chances to be ranked on top after winning silver at the Asian Junior Karate Championships in Kota Kinabalu last month. She also won a bronze at the 2018 Asian junior meet in Japan.
Getting ranked first in the world is a welcome boost to her hopes of becoming the top Malaysian female karate exponent.
Madhuri is delighted with her status but is aware of the hard work ahead as she seeks to stamp her mark in the senior national squad.
For a start, she will be hoping to kick her way to glory in the Asian Karate Championships in Vietnam in July and also in the Philippines SEA Games in December.
“I still have a long way to go in the senior Open level. Syakilla is very talented and an inspiration to me. I hope to be like her one day,” said Madhuri, who is being groomed by Iranian coach Ali Reza Souleymani.
“The Asian karate championships is important as it will be one of the selection meets for the SEA Games. I hope to get selected for the SEA Games as I want to fight in the individual and team events for the country.”
Madhuri was in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games squad two years ago but did not fight in the individual category.
She was, however, the fourth member of the kumite women’s gold-medal winning team. The other members were Syakilla, M. Mathivani and S. Shree Sharmini.
Madhuri, who has been in the national team for the last two years, is now in Istanbul, Turkey for the Karate 1 Series.
The other members of the national team taking part this weekend are Syakilla and Syarulniza Jamil (both in women’s kumite below 55kg), Nor Azli Siti Nur Azwani (women’s below 50kg), A. Somanroy (men’s kumite above 84kg), S. Daneshkumar (men’s kumite below 75kg) and 2018 Jakarta Asian Games bronze medallist S. Prem Kumar (men’s kumite below 60kg).